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Jaakko Eskola is now in his fifth year in charge of the global leader in smart technologies and sustainable solutions for the marine and energy markets. He is both an engineer and a sailor so ideally placed to marshal the innovations created by his 19,000 colleagues to create radical and lasting change in both sectors. Wärtsilä has locations in over 80 countries, and it has delivered technology to more than 180 countries across the globe. The company is included in several sustainability indices including the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices, FTSE4Good Index, Ethibel Sustainability Index Excellence Europe, MSCI Global Sustainability Index Series and STOXX Global ESG Leaders Index.

Mr. Eskola began our conversation by highlighting the growing importance of smart technologies to the decarbonisation agenda. He explained how technology can enable more sustainable societies. Specifically, Jaakko is keen to emphasise how data driven technical solutions working in concert with machine learning and human understanding can make a real and practical difference to decarbonisation. He explained how Wärtsilä’s range of Engine+ Hybrid energy solutions are helping Island grids and remote grid operations to modernise despite tight margins and therefore help more customers to reach a 100% renewable energy future. Mr. Eskola emphasises the fundamental conundrum that combining smart technologies can help to solve. “Everybody needs energy. But it is also a major carbon contributor. So, we need to look at individual technologies and system innovation to help improve the situation”

Unsurprisingly the conversation turns to shipping where the Wärtsilä CEO is clearly engrossed in his work centred on technology as a force for good. He speaks with detail and passion about the way new innovations are solving problems in many different parts of the marine sector – particularly during a time of such unprecedented economic disruption. Technology as a means of delivering rapid and practical change is something of a passion for Eskola. He explains that advances in smart technology now translate into the dramatically increased utilisation of monitoring solutions, remote docking and remote charging technologies to name just a few applications.

In the energy sector, Jaakko’s focus is relentlessly on the system level – searching for opportunities to improve across countries. He highlights the complexities inherent in the energy sector today with customary realism by reinforcing that “Energy systems need to look at both affordability and sustainability. That makes the whole thing very complicated”.

Jaakko emphasises that the world is still a huge and complex place. He highlights the different characteristics of energy demand between the developing and developed world. Designing global systems to cope with such variations at a time of such volatility can help take the fight to climate change. Wärtsil’s GEMS energy management system is a useful example of this. The system automatically dispatches available assets by using spinning reserves that can dramatically cut energy intermittencies. Wärtsilä and its customers are using the latest data science, processes and automation to face up to this challenge and create new pathways of resilience in the face of an increasingly uncertain future.